In our Pre-Shift series, we show how different restaurant teams prepare for service, from cooking and polishing to team meetings and table layouts. OpenTable’s Alex Loscher visited New York City’s Rotisserie Georgette to document the scene and talk to founder Georgette Farkas about her pre-shift process — click through the gallery above to get started.
At her Manhattan restaurant Rotisserie Georgette, Georgette Farkas serves the kind of food she grew up with in France: simple roasted meats, fish, and vegetables that people come back for again and again. The restaurant is a combination of the family-style places she knew in Europe, where there were no menus but just a few signature dishes cooked in big, rustic fireplaces, and the refined, luxurious style she mastered over almost two decades at Daniel.
After attending hotel school in Switzerland and apprenticing all over Europe, Georgette settled in at Daniel, at that time the only restaurant owned by Chef Daniel Boulud. “I had the idea that I was going to open a restaurant one day, but I woke up one morning and 17 years had gone by!” she says. “When you work for a company like that, every day is inspiring and motivating and you’re challenged to do something new. And you’re working with the best of the best. Why would you take the risk of starting a business?”
But eventually her entrepreneurial spirit won out. Georgette and business partner Katina Pappas opened Rotisserie Georgette in 2013, focusing on whole-roasted fish, game birds, meats, and vegetables that rotate according to the season and appeal to the most elementary part of our senses.
Georgette says, “When you’re planning a restaurant, you have to think about winter, spring, summer, and fall. How will it feel at night? How will it feel during the day? How will it feel for men and for women? People ask me what kind of demographic we have, but I’m like, what do you mean? People who like good food! People who want to eat! It’s the sort of thing you come back to every week.”
In addition to bringing in Katina, Georgette hired Chad Brauze as Executive Chef and built a team she’s immensely proud of, while committing herself to making the restaurant a respectful, pleasurable place to work. She started with the stewards, the dishwashers, whom she says have the hardest job there. “If they have ultimate respect, then everyone is going to get it.”
That attitude extends to the guests as well, who are guaranteed to hear “yes” to just about any question they ask the staff. “When a customer walks in a little bit grumpy, I feel like it’s almost a challenge,” says Georgette. “If you can have them smiling by the end of the night, that’s amazingly gratifying.”
Photo Credit: Alex Loscher